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Province may formalize First Nations policing

This fall, the province is conducting an ongoing review of the Police Act

Changes to the Police Act are being proposed that would formalize First Nations police services into provincial law.

The Police Act and Police Service Regulation are the provincial laws setting the roles and responsibilities of Alberta police. First Nations police forces are not currently recognized in these rules, however.

Despite this, some First Nations in Alberta have operated police services for more than two decades.

Tsuut’ina Nation has operated its police service since 2004. It meets all provincial policing standards and duties, said Chief Roy Whitney Onespot, in an Oct. 21 news release announcing the proposed changes.

Siksika Nation established a tribal police service in 1991, but it was defunded and subsequently disbanded in 2002. RCMP have been responsible for the entirety of policing responsibilities for the community since.

This fall, the province is conducting an ongoing review of the Police Act. One of the proposed changes, part of the Justice Statutes Amendment Act, 2020, would formalize First Nation police services into law.

“With this legislation, the government of Alberta acknowledges the valuable role First Nations policing plays in keeping their communities safe,” said Kaycee Madu, minister of justice and solicitor general. “These changes will ensure First Nations police services and the communities they serve can benefit from our efforts to modernize policing in Alberta.”

Additionally, a proposed amendment to the Provincial Offences Procedures Act would authorize First Nations police services to issue tickets to enforce bylaws.

These changes could support the reestablishment of a Siksika Nation tribal police force. During a Facebook Live question and answer session on Aug. 26, Siksika Nation Councillor Reuben “Buck” Breaker discussed plans for the First Nation to establish its own peace officers, which would be permitted to enforce some provincial statutes, such as for speeding and vehicle registration.

Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

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